The Smoking Gun

By Stan Mitchell


“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

Sadly the elderly minister showed the young couple to the door, and returned to his desk. You could still smell the gun smoke of rancor and accusation in the room. He feared for these kids.

He had been in ministry for almost fifty years, and in that time had counseled with literally hundreds of couples. He leaned back in his chair, laced his fingers behind his head, and reflected. What one factor, he thought, most commonly destroyed marriages? Was it adultery? Physical abuse? Money?

The pretty young woman had complained that her husband did not make enough money, and compared him to her brother, a stockbroker, who made hundreds of thousands a year, and kept his wife in new cars, new clothes, and a beautiful house. The young man, broad in the shoulders and in the prime of his life, accused her of complaining whenever he spent time fishing with his buddies.

There was no headline material in this session, no steamy stories of betrayal discovered, or passion.

Just plain selfishness.

Neither person was willing to offer himself completely to the other; neither was willing to consider his partner’s needs first.

It was she who had put it into words: “I thought the point of our marriage was for him to make me happy.” Well, when life is all about what you get, and not what you give, he thought, then this is the result. It was so sad, the solution so simple, and it was so hard to make them see.

Long before the affair, or the big blowout fight, or the breakup of the marriage, there was always selfishness.

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